Liv Nomadic

Hiking Poles – Are They Worth It?

If you’ve been out hiking in recent years, chances are you have probably seen other hikers using trekking poles. Seeing them in action might have piqued your curiosity about whether or not they are a useful tool you should consider looking into or could they just be another marketing gimmick?

In this blog post I hope to dive into what hiking poles are, why people are using them and will hopefully help you make a decision. 

Why Do People Opt to Use Hiking Poles

Maintaining Balance

Hiking poles, also known as trekking poles, can provide a great deal of support and balance when you are out on a hike. These poles help reduce the impact on your knees, ankles and feet, while also helping to distribute your weight especially when you are on uneven ground. This makes for a more stable footing and improved balance, especially when climbing steep inclines, rocky surfaces, or slippery surfaces.

I find having this type of balance support can help you climb in tricky situations and can also help you descend when it is hard to plant your foot. 

More Effective Workout

Hiking poles can also help you maintain a consistent pace, which in turn will help you increase the effectiveness of the workout. This can be important for both your physical and mental endurance. 

Hiking poles naturally help take some of the load off your lower body, and allow you to be able to keep up your pace for longer periods of time regardless of the terrain.

Although you may feel that hiking with the trekking poles will lessen the impact of your workout by aiding in functions like balance and lower body stamina, it helps engage support from your upper body which will allow you to keep your heart rate up longer. In the long run, this means you can likely tackle the longer more strenuous hikes without dreading the second half because of exhaustion.

Injury Prevention and Recovery

Since hiking poles have the ability to provide additional balance and can also help reduce the amount of stress and strain on your lower body, they can act to help prevent injury and can also help aid recovery while allowing you to remain active.

Another benefit that hiking poles offer is when you are hiking your arms are maintained at a 90 degree angle. This helps reduce swelling in your hands that would otherwise happen if you were walking without them and makes your hike more enjoyable.

Overall, hiking poles are an excellent investment for anyone who wants to enjoy hiking safely and comfortably. They are easy to use and can greatly improve your balance, stability and overall enjoyment of the great outdoors. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, hiking poles are an essential tool that should be part of your hiking gear.

If you’re like me you may be thinking  “If hiking poles are so great, why isn’t every hiker using them?”

Let’s take a look at some reasons I’ve been told not to include them with my hiking gear.

Reasons Some People Choose to Avoid Using Poles

Too Much Gear

I’ve been told in the past that some people don’t see the value in using hiking poles and simply believe that hiking poles mean more equipment you need to remember to bring with you and carry around. 

I’ve also been told that some people find that when they use the poles they are too busy coordinating their pole placement and forget to take a second to look around and enjoy nature.

Getting Snagged When on the Trail

Another reason some people avoid using hiking poles is due to the risk of getting snagged on trees and brush while hiking, as well as the possibility of becoming entangled in rocks, which can result in them breaking or worse may result in injury. 

Although it is not a frequent occurrence, anyone who uses trekking poles will eventually find themselves having to pause and disentangle their poles from the obstacles they have become caught on.

Hiking Poles Can Be Dangerous

The last point I hear quite frequently is people feel that if they were to unexpectedly fall or trip, they would have a harder time catching themselves if they had the poles in their hand. 

They fear that they wouldn’t be able to easily grab onto a nearby tree or even fear that the poles themselves could get stuck in the ground and cause a trip or a fall.

Should you get them?

By now, you’ve probably developed a decent understanding of both sides of the debate and now it is time to better understand your needs and the types of hikes you normally go on.

Are you a hiker that generally spends their time in the back country or on trails with lots of  elevation gains and drops? Do you generally go hiking with a weighted pack or lots of gear? Are you nursing an injury or have bad hips, knees, ankles, or back? Do you have a poor level of balance and flexibility? 

If you have answered yes to any of the above you may choose to consider looking into trekking or hiking poles and may find great value in using them to aid balance and stability while nursing a previous injury. 

If you generally find yourself taking the alternative approach by mainly sticking to park paths and maintained trails, don’t have any previous injuries and have a good level of balance and stability, then you may find that hiking and trekking poles may be a bit overkill for your needs. 

I know many people who aren’t sure if they need to use trekking poles during their hike. A good solution is to hike with folded hiking poles and then keep them in your backpack so you can access them in the event of an injury or if the terrain changes.


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